Ghost tours create controversy at Edmond cemetery

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EDMOND, Okla. -- There's controversy over ghost tours that were held at Gracelawn Cemetery in Edmond.

Some who have loved ones buried at the cemetery are calling it disrespectful.

We received this e-mail from Tim Landis in Arcadia.

"While I'm sure the "Tour" is harmless - I do strongly believe that there could have been another venue to carry it out. City of Edmond also has an established set of rules for Gracelawn and it appears these have gone by the wayside for a group to get 7 dollars a head to wander around the cemetery after dark."

The ghost tours were actually a fundraiser for the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust.

Officials say this is the first time they've done the ghost tours since the 1990's.

But they say they've never received any complaints and made an effort to be reverent of their surroundings.

Alongside more recent burials, some of the graves at Gracelawn Cemetery date back to the late 1800's and belong to Edmond's "founding fathers."

Milton Reynolds, known as "kickingbird," is one of them.

He published the first issue of the Edmond Sun.

John Mitch, one of Edmond's first mayors, is another.

"We wanted to go from their resting place to resting place and tell their story," said Stephanie Carel with the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust.

Carel says the idea behind the ghost tours was education.

They had actors dressed up as the founding fathers reciting the history.

"Most of them had not heard any of that history. They've lived here their entire lives and loved every bit of it," said Carel.

Ron Schessl goes to Gracelawn several times a day to visit his late wife.

"I was just told that they were telling ghost stories," said Schessl.

He saw the unusual visitors Saturday night, but says it was ok with him.

"I knew there wasn't anybody destroying anything so it didn't bother me," said Schessl.

"You know if you had a loved one out there, you wouldn't want people walking around when they're not really family so I can see both ways," said Edmond resident, Debbie McFarlin.

Organizers say spectators at the ghost tours had to stay in the wagon wheel, the original part of the cemetery and weren't allowed to wander.

Carel says they made very effort to be respectful of the families represented there.

She says more than 200 people attended the tours over four nights.

They plan to use the money to replace the historical plaques in downtown Edmond.

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